Thoughts from Nokia World 2011

A few weeks ago, Nokia Connects held a media contest to award tickets, travel and accomodation for some lucky blogger to express why he or she was excited about Nokia World 2011.  I already had all that covered, but gave it a shot just in case my wife or a friend could use the prize.  Worth a try, right?

Granted, my entry began by addressing cynicism, some personal but largely general, which had to make it a long-shot.  I walked readers through my Nokia journey for this year, with the aim of providing an objective yet ultimately optimistic view of the company’s prospects.  

I didn’t win that prize, but I do feel like a winner after having joined around 4000 other skeptics and enthusiasts at one of the largest product launch events of the year.  Nokia didn’t disappoint, either: not only was the much-anticipated Lumia 800 formally acknowledged, but a compelling sister product (the 710) and a new feature phone line (Asha) made their debuts as well.  There were no surprises for me with Lumia; the sharp Nokia blogging community had already pegged the critical details.  But Asha was a pleasant revelation– I had been so focused on Nokia’s work on the high end that if there were signs of Asha’s existence prior to the event I completely missed them.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The personal high point for me was being invited, along with 34-or-so other Nokia Developer Champions, to arrive a day early for a special mini-event targeted specifically at us and by extension the developer community at large.  As important as the Big Show was, I believe community outreach to be equally critical.  Let’s all be honest: some Nokia moves and statements since late 2010 have cast a pall over its otherwise-stalwart developer armies, especially those in the Qt camp.  While many Nokia developers are certainly interested in adding Windows Phone to their arsenal, some have balked for one reason or another.  Nokia’s challenge is to make sure a sufficient effort is put forward toward developers feeling skittish or disenfranchised, as the company can ill-afford any more negative publicity.  Getting more behind developers and providing them a path to Nokia’s future will be much-needed goodwill.

Super-developers like Simon Botes have been successful at getting their products downloaded, but struggle at monetization.  During our Developer Day, Nokia’s Kenny Mathers and Reggie Hutcherson assured us that this is a key component of their strategy.  Hopefully we’ll hear more on that very soon…the survey we were sent afterward certainly asked all the right questions.

The Nokia Developer Team is to be commended for putting this day (including an evening mixer afterward) together.  Handing out beautiful black N9s was just icing on the cake.  Next: more regional events, please, especially across the US!  It’s all about engagement.

Which brings us back to the main event.  As awed as I was by the glitz and glam of that important opening keynote, what I found really assuring and exciting was a well-received live feed of Lumia product being packaged for shipment at the Salo factory.  This is precisely what Nokia needed to connect with the skeptics.  Not some pointless dog and pony show, but rather, a nuts-and-bolts example of something tangible.

As usual, for me the best part of any event is socializing.  Nokia World was an excellent opportunity for me to share thoughts with friends and meet new people with a fascination for All Things Nokia in common.  Yes, sometimes that fascination follows a cynical twist but even detractors freely admit that Nokia has many strengths.  For one, the sexy designs of the N9 and Lumia 800 were a hot topic of discussion.  And even those searching for flaws in Windows Phone 7.5 had to settle for minor gripes– if there are any showstopping-defects, I didn’t see or hear of them.

I can’t say the experience was 100% positive, however.  Communications (wifi and cellular) were horrible to non-existent throughout most of the show… not a good indication of Nokia Connecting People.  I was told 2010 suffered the same issues, and I sure hope this is resolved by 2012.  It’s embarrassing.  But not as awful as the Monster-made headphones that were revealed.  Ack.  Too glossy, too bulky.  Sorry, I don’t see these coordinating with the sleek Lumia phones.

Still, I’m newly enthused about Nokia’s prospects, even though I’ll admit to some discouragement over the move away from mobile Linux.  But I’m a ten-thousand-foot technologist, and don’t get as religious about platforms as I do platform philosophies.  I think now that Nokia’s thoughts are on a good track.  That’s a good feeling for this fan and stockholder.  😉

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12 responses to “Thoughts from Nokia World 2011

  1. i rather see them do meego keep symbian or do android,

    they will carry windows phone by brand because market doesnt want it.

    atm belle looks better than mango. feature wise even performance wise.

  2. The link referring to the headphones is missing.

  3. You’re right – engagement is the key and where is the compelling reason to own / develop / give a damn about a windows phone? At least Maemo / Meego are different to the rest because it feels like you are part of a community that has some ideals. Shame Nokia chickened out – and do you say anything if someone gives you a new phone ;O) Bit tired of these puff pieces!

    • I can’t argue most of those points. I’ve just slowly accepted that Windows Phone CAN be successful. Yes the numbers are not there yet. Yes there’s a lot in the way. But then again, iOS and Android came out of nowhere too.

      I do wish Maemo/MeeGo had succeeded for Nokia. I know that they could have… and using an N9 just underscores the point (more on that later).

      But I think Nokia can get back on track one way or another. Time will tell.

      EDIT: I’m not sure how serious you were with the “puff piece” slam, but let me be clear: in the entire time I’ve been writing in this blog, you’re the first person to accuse me of such.

      I helped *build* the Maemo and MeeGo communities. Nobody wanted either to succeed more than I did. I’ve also called Nokia to task numerous times on failures, and I’ll do so again. Just check further back in this blog’s history– chastising Nokia for the N900 usb connector failures brought in the most views of any article or series.

      But I’m not a basher. That’s for amateurs and hotheads. I will point out the good and the bad, hopefully in fair measure. I want Nokia to succeed for a variety of reasons, and that’s my admitted bias.

      If I ever write a “puff piece”, however, my friends will let me know in no uncertain terms.

      • I’ve just reread my post and it sounds too personal sorry. Other people in the Meego world shrugged their shoulders at the news of Tizen and seemed to say ‘oh well’ and carry on as normal liasing with Intel.

        They say to travel in hope is better than to arrive. I guess the journey’s finished and we just have to get on with our lives!

  4. I’ve enjoyed feading many of your articles but I feel let down by community figureheads who seem to shrug their shoulders at the decisions made by people such as Nokia and seem to then move with the general direction of their decisions. I accept that your motivation is a successful Nokia, but it’s frustrating for those that have invested time (at a much less significant personal level than yourself) in Maemo/Meego to see thosed leaders saying the party is better across the street at someone’s house you don’t like.

    Edward Bernays invented this idea of creating a demand for things you don’t need by appealing to your subconcious so that you want them. Malcolm Gladwell describes this in his book The Tipping Point. He talks about how the cool kids are approached by company’s who want their product to do well. They are given products so that the rest of the group also aspire to have them. My argument is you’re one of the cool kids and you have influence which Nokia want, and I guess which you are happy to provide because of your affiliations. But they are trying to create a demand for something we don’t need. I think we need something like Maemo/Meego and I feel let down by those that I saw as supporting it and now are moving away.

    • My reaction is not a shoulder-shrugging at all. More of a mind struggle. I’m still nervous about Nokia + Microsoft but I temper that with curiosity over “the next billion”. There’s stuff I’m not supposed to speculate about due to being a Nokia Developer Champion but when I can, I think you’ll be at least a little relieved.

      I’m also not giving up on mobile Linux. I will continue to hold devices like the N9 up as the REAL state of the art, and I hope to get more involved with the Maemo/MeeGo heir-apparent, Mer.

      So don’t assume the worst. Just because I’m relenting on Nokia’s emphasis on Windows Phone doesn’t mean I’ve given up pushing for open solutions. 😉

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